And he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.”
“Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete” (Genesis 15:7; 13-16).
These are the words that God spoke to Abraham hundreds of years earlier. We have read of Abraham’s descendants moving to Egypt to escape the famine, of the people being enslaved by the Egyptians, of God’s amazing rescue mission. He indeed brought great judgment on Egypt and the people came out with great possessions. We’ve read of the giving of the law, of the building of the tabernacle, of the marching to Canaan, and of the people’s failure to enter the land. We’ve read in Numbers of the 40 years of wandering and we’ve listened to Moses reiterate the law in Deuteronomy.
And now, finally…the people begin to posses the land. The iniquity of the Amorites is complete. You see, God used every circumstance and weaved each failure as he orchestrated the perfect plan to both bless His people and bring judgment on a very sinful people. If Israel had taken the land earlier, it would have not been fair to the Amorites (one of the main peoples who lived in Canaan) for “the iniquity of the Amorites [was] not yet complete” (Gen 15:16).
God’s plans for nations are intricate, complicated and good. But somehow God manages the same intricacy and goodness in His plans for individuals.
Consider Simeon in Luke’s passage. He is but one man. But like all people of faith, he was important to God. God had plans for him. Plans that included seeing the promised Messiah before he died. And God weaved and orchestrated so that Simeon, as an old man, would see Jesus as a 40-day-old infant.
And then God used Simeon, the individual, to prophesy God’s plan for the nations.
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32).
God’s ways are intricate and complicated. But most of all, they are good.